USA Games Athlete Spotlight: From First Responder to USA Games Athlete

By Melanie Barrios

The pandemic threw everyone in a loop over the past two years. While people were instructed to stay indoors and keep a respectable six feet distance, a few braved the pandemic as front-line workers. Kyle Buckley serves as a first responder and also works at Ralphs. “My favorite part is helping customers,” Kyle states. These are roles that Kyle is extremely proud of. 

But now, Kyle is ready to take on a new adventure. He will represent Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) at the USA Games. Upon hearing the exciting news, Kyle was overjoyed. He has been a SOSC athlete for five years and this is his first time being invited to compete at a national level. He will be competing as a swimmer, which is one of his favorite sports! 

“We are very proud of him,” says Elena, Kyle’s mom. “We didn’t know he was going to be part of this special group and help him boost his confidence.” Elena and a few family members will be making the trip to Florida to cheer Kyle on. Before that, Kyle’s family showed their support for Kyle by assisting him with his training. Whether it is driving Kyle to and from practice, practicing with him at home, or giving him motivational talks, Kyle’s family is up for the challenge to prepare Kyle for the USA Games. 

Kyle’s confidence has blossomed since joining Special Olympics and his anxiety has even calmed down. He credits Special Olympics for helping him set realistic goals in his life and for keeping him focused and motivated to achieve them.  

Now that he has achieved one of his top goals to compete at USA Games, Kyle is ecstatic to attend opening ceremonies, meet new friends, and of course, swim. 

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